TEMPLE OWLS (23-9)
vs. NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK (24-10)
NCAA Tournament – Second Round
Tip-off: Friday, 1:40 p.m. ET
Line: NC State -4, Total: 149
After a disappointing regular season, NC State looks to start another deep tournament run when they meet up with Temple on Friday afternoon in Dayton.
The Wolfpack advanced to the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed last season and nearly upended eventual title game runner-up Kansas. And NC State returns the core of the players from that squad. The Wolfpack were expected to be a national title contender this year, but were too often done in by mediocre defense and bad situational basketball. They have covered in six of their past seven as a favorite though, and will have a size advantage over the undersized Owls. Temple has made a habit of winning games they’re not supposed to, winning SU in their past three games as an underdog and going 6-2 ATS when getting points and 10-5 ATS away from home this season. They did suffer an upset loss to Massachusetts in the first round of the Atlantic-10 Tournament though.
Can NC State begin another long NCAA Tournament run on Friday? For the answer, connect to 2013 NCAA Tourney Picks for all the Expert picks throughout the entire tournament. The four StatFox experts begin the NCAA Tournament on quite a roll, going a collective 75% ATS (35-12-1) in the season's final four days and 67% ATS (67-33-2) since March 9, with StatFox Gary going 75% ATS (12-4), StatFox Brian posting a 68% ATS mark (19-9-1), StatFox Dave also at 68% ATS (17-8) and StatFox Scott winning 61% ATS (19-12-1) in those final nine days. Gary has a 68% ATS record (23-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 56.1% ATS (110-86-4) for the entire college basketball season.
NC State has a balanced offense, with all five of its starters averaging double-digits. Freshman T.J. Warren (12.4 PPG, 62.6% FG) has actually been their leading scorer since moving into the starting lineup for good in late February, averaging 15.0 PPG on 64.9% FG and 6.2 RPG. He and double-double machine Richard Howell (12.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.8 offensive RPG) will be a handful inside for a weak Temple frontcourt. SF Scott Wood (12.7 PPG, 44.3% threes) remains one of the best three-point shooters in the nation, and he enters this game hot after averaging 19.0 PPG and hitting 59.3% of his threes over three ACC Tournament games. The question is which C.J. Leslie and which Lorenzo Brown will show up. Leslie (14.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG) is the best pure talent in this game, but continues to look erratic when it comes to decision-making and basketball IQ. Despite his physical gifts, he shot just 36.8% FG in the ACC Tournament. A big, scoring point guard, Brown (12.1 PPG, 7.2 APG) dominates the ball for this team, but his shot has been off all year. He’s hit just 27.1% of his threes on the season, including 2-for-11 shooting from behind the arc in Greensboro last week. He missed all six of his FG attempts in their ACC semifinal loss to Miami. Brown will have added pressure in trying to guard Temple star Khalif Wyatt on the other end of the floor.
If Temple is going to move on, it will likely be because Wyatt got the better of Brown. Wyatt (19.8 PPG, 4.1 APG) is a volume shooter who emerged as one of the nation’s best pure scorers in the second half of the season. He’s averaged 23.6 PPG over the past 16 games, including four 30-point performances. But he can be dreadfully inefficient if his shots aren’t falling, like when he needed 19 shots to score 19 points in their A-10 tournament loss to UMass. He and Brown are similar players with similar builds. Stretch PF Jake O’Brien (9.3 PPG, 42.9% threes) will have to stay hot from behind the arc, especially since he figures to have trouble matching up with Howell and Warren in the low post and on the boards. O’Brien rebounds more like a guard despite being 6-foot-9, but he made 51.9% FG and 43.7% threes over the second half of the season. They also need streaky shooter Scootie Randall (11.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG) to knock down shots. He made just 30.8% of his threes on the year, but hit 38.2% and scored in double-digits in each of the past nine games. As the only true big in this rotation, sophomore PF Anthony Lee (10.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG) will have to control the defensive boards.